Posted Jun 04, 2012 01:43 PM
Know your Place
Lots of people jump into playing an instrument without thinking whether it suits them and a lot of people then decide what style of music they think they should play and don't consider what they want to play or how they want to play it. This article is for finding your ideal instrument and what style of music you should play.
Firstly you have to choose your instrument; it has to be one that you're interested in and, not wanting to crush any dreams, it's probably a good idea for you to understand what your limits are and what you can and can't play.
So, let's say you are a singer, people can sing to varying degrees and half of it is confidence. You can sing well enough to be a soloist but you might not have the confidence. Then maybe you should be a backing singer until you're ready for the limelight. Singing can also require a really big stage presence, reacting to the audience and not looking nervous are large factors in live performances and you don't want to make your first show your last. As I have said singing is about both confidence and talent so be careful what you wish for.
If you're not a big singer then the other instruments have to be separated into genres for you to select from, Classical and Modern. These are two base genres that I have made up for these circumstances; Classical will have all the Woodwind, some Strings, Piano and some Percussion. Modern will contain the remainder, Guitars, Bass, Drums, and Keyboard etc. There are so many varieties in each that it does not matter which you choose so if you prefer Modern then skip the next section.
Classical Music is one of the most complex genres as it requires a huge orchestra of musicians to compile a song in a perfect harmony of semi-quavers and minims. If you are particularly dextrous then it's likely that you should choose a stringed instrument or a woodwind one. If you have a good rhythm then percussion is ideal, of course also choose what you want to play if you have a knack for both or neither. When selecting a stringed instrument it's important to understand that all are equally important and that your pitch is individual to you. The lowest being the double bass (Which can also be used in playing Jazz when plucked), which is a personal favourite, ranging up to the Violin and Viola. The latter require quite small fingers as the strings are closely spaced and the instrument is fretless. The harp is one of the most unorthodox instruments as it has the most strings in the orchestra and there is rarely more than two. This is a very complex instrument to play and I have never personally tried but it does make one of the most beautiful sounds. Percussion is a great instrumental genre as it binds the entire orchestra and ranges from the easy to the complex. It is ideal for people who like to make loud noises and it is a really fun instrument to play. This sort of music has a large range of techniques involved and choosing which instrument can be difficult but keep reading for the Modern part.
Much of today's music is compiled with many different instruments and some of which are electric or computer composed, also please note that these instruments are not necessarily used to play modern music it was only a general stereotype. I am only looking at real instruments. Within this field it's important to decide if prefer a front stage or back stage role. Those with more vigour, flamboyance and confidence are suited to this. One such role is the lead guitar, it is very difficult to play lead and stay in the shadows, if you don't like being in the spot light then it's best to form your own style, sometimes just standing and playing with a solemn look on your face can work. Also it requires a certain feel of rhythm and dexterity to play it well. The piano is also a rather foreground instrument and has a wide versatility to what genres of music it can play. Blues and Jazz have a very large piano or keyboard section incorporated into them.
My personal favourite instrument is the bass guitar as its set a little back from the crowd but requires just as much talent and determination as any other instrument. Having a good rhythm and timing is essential when playing this instrument as well as playing the drums as it is these instruments that steady and form the basis to the rest of the band. Going onto the drums they are probably the most fun and exciting instrument to play and are relatively easy to start playing and are perfect if you don't want to be seen at all, also needing talent and determination once the higher levels are achieved it is a very satisfying instrument to learn.
This section was not included in my two broad genres and it involves several unorthodox instruments that people enjoy playing. Firstly I am going to talk about the Banjo, a very interesting instrument that, like a bass, comes in four and five string varieties. It requires a good rhythm be able to play and is normally played at a very fast tempo. Its roots in America it has a country theme to its sound and is rarely used in any genre besides that. The next odd instrument is the Stylophone, a novelty instrument that has electric sounds which has been popular for 20 to 30 years. And finally the accordion, this is an instrument which I have played and it has a great appeal to me because of its versatility and timbre. A woodwind instrument that incorporates piano and it makes the most amazing, penetrating, deep sound.
This final section is about choosing your niche in music, it's first of all important to choose somewhere that your instrument fits and also to try to give yourself a little space by choosing a genre that isn't too overloaded with bands already. If you are only able to fit in one of these then maybe try having a different approach to how you play, using alternate timbres to everybody else or using an entirely different musical range. Let's start with Metal, there are for 4 different styles but we'll stick it under one big subheading. It has a very select audience usually between the ages of 14 and 24 years old, the singing is surprisingly tuneful apart from death metal which involves lots of screaming and shouting. The guitar and bass are usually very complex and fast and often the bass will have an extra low B to play with. Drums are by far the loudest instrument and played at tempos between 260 and 290. Lyrics usually include vulgar topics, religious persecution and death.
Country has one of the slowest tempos and is mostly played with an acoustic instrument, often a purely instrumental style of music and ranges from beginner to complex playing. Only popular with a very small number of people it originated from Central America and remains popular there.
Rock is a very popular type of music and possibly on of the largest genres to be played, it can manifest itself in many forms and has a huge range of tempos, difficulties and instruments. To put a comparison between Queen and Green Day is just odd, they are both Rock but sound entirely different, much of this genre is based upon the lyrics which contain everything from Political Statements to Confessing Love for a Stranger, drugs to Anger management issues. The list goes on. It is quite hard to put a label on whether you should play it or not and that's why it good to experiment with different genres.
There are other genres but most are just branches of the ones I stated earlier, I hope that this article has given firstly an insight in to music, and secondly what you want to achieve musically.